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Oleksii Potiomkin, former principal dancer at the National Opera of Ukraine, shares with us his news, thoughts and inspirations, in an exclusive interview for 1987 Magazine.


Question 01:

Tell us a bit more about yourself, your everyday life

and about your background!

O.P.: I’m 33, born and raised in Kyiv, Ukraine. I studied at the Kyiv Municipal Dance Academy named after Serge Lifar and at the International Slavic University. From 2008 to 2017 I worked as a leading soloist at the Solomiya Krushelnytska Lviv National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater and then moved back to Kyiv to work for the National Opera for five years.


When the war started I decided to volunteer for the Ukrainian Paramedic Service which is called Hospitallers and offer my help in the front line. I really enjoy working in the front line on a daily basis and be a part of a team with brave men and women.

Question 02:

What motivates you in life?

O.P.: As a dancer my motivation is to perform and play different roles, also feel the love from the audience and of course spend quality time with my family. Working in the Paramedic Service my motivation is to help the Ukrainian Army and civilians, raise awareness and money, and manage the facilities for the crew. In my free time I try to dance and do some training, as deep inside me I always feel motivated and a need to get better.

Question 03:

Has your vision and your inspirations about life changed while getting actively involved in the war?

O.P.: Yes a lot of things have changed. But remember, this situation is actually happening for the last 8 years. All this time many people in Ukraine tried not to think about it but personally I was always trying to get involved and help my friends when needed. When I'm thinking about Ukraine, I see Democracy, Light and Freedom and this is my biggest motivation, this is what I am fighting for in my everyday life. The war has changed me but what I am trying to do is always to act in a civilized way, be a human and not to lose myself in any way.

Question 04:

How is your daily routine?

O.P.: The working conditions in the front line require strength and bravery. I deal with a lot of injuries and we always have to work fast to offer immediate medical help, transport injured people or even evacuate the civilians. Working with brave people and helping my brothers motivates me a lot.


Question 05: What's the most challenging incident that you had to deal with?

O.P.: All the incidents are important and challenging but I believe the biggest challenge is to stay alive. Remember that we have to run while missiles are coming, drive and save people in extremely difficult situations. My team is very experienced and I follow their advice and orders. We work as a family, helping each other and respecting each other. Apart from the challenges and the difficult moments, there is a lot of satisfaction, when I see rescued soldiers and civilians and when my team is going back home safe and alive.

Question 06: Do you feel scared while being in the front line?


O.P.: I feel scared most of the time. We are carrying weapons as well but not to fight or kill someone, just for our own protection. I fight not only physically but also mentally, with my own feelings and my fears. During a war this is another fight that takes place, fighting with yourself, your real emotions and your inner strength. It's actually a multi-dimensional fight.

Question 07: Do you manage to get a proper rest?

O.P.: When we finish our work I usually read some blogs and news, I talk to my family, especially my wife and my son, with a video call or pictures. I also listen to music.

Question 08: How is your family and your son doing?

O.P.: My wife and my son live in Italy. She works there and she is a ballet dancer as well. During the first week of war, they left Ukraine and decided to move to Italy. I haven't seen them for a long time and basically right now I am at the airport, on my way to Italy to see them after 3 months!

Question 09: How did you decide to become a dancer?

O.P.: Being a ballet dancer is way more creative and I can see the difference now, while working in the front line. Being an artist is not only about the performance and the stage but also communicating with your audience, passing a message. As an artist I feel like I am a window to bring light, share my own experience and inform people. I can speak about art and also about the situation that we all face right now. I see dancing as an opportunity and a mission. It's a small window of light in a very chaotic and dangerous world right now.


Question 10: What about your future travel plans and goals?

O.P.: At the moment we are working with choreographers and planning some new performances. I have been invited to other countries but I don't feel like leaving my role right now, I want to stay in Ukraine and then see what we can do. But there are many interesting and new things planned this season.

Question 11: Where do you see yourself in the future?

O.P.: At the moment we have to stay brave, strong and survive. All I want to see right now is Peace and keep my family and my team at work safe. As an artist, for the future, I would like to transform Ukrainian art and step by step bring it outside the borders, working on new international projects and productions.

Last question! How can someone support the paramedic team?

O.P.: The Medical Battalion was created by Yana Zinkevych.    You can check our page on Instagram and our official Website. The Medical Battalion consists of volunteers, like me, who collect and manage donations and work in the logistics and operations.

1987 Magazine would like to thank Oleksii Potiomkin for his valuable time, congratulate him on his amazing service as a volunteer and we wish him the very best of luck with his future career as a dancer.


This exclusive interview was first published in June 2022

and may not reflect current events and circumstances.

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